Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Little Lucy

Submitted by Michelle

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.
Ted Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss)

I've been doing a lot of crying lately. My dog Lucy died at the end of March and her absence has left a kind of hole in my heart. I always thought my husband, David, would be the one who would take it the hardest when we lost one of our dogs, but I was wrong.

We adopted Lucy in June of 2005. For seven years she was my constant companion. Where ever I went, she wanted to be there, too. That's probably the biggest thing I miss now that she is gone.
Full of energy and spunk, she was a great little walker, even with her short legs.
She was good at snuggling and sun bathing.
And she really enjoyed relaxing in bed on Saturday mornings with me.
Lucy was most definitely my dog, and she was very protective of me. Linda's boys called her Lucifer because she always barked at them whenever they came near. David jokingly nicknamed her Osama Bin Lucy because she was such a little dictator, always pushing our other dog Zoe out of the way so she could have the prime snuggle spot on my lap or the fluffiest doggie bed in the house. But I called her Lucy or Lucy Bell or Lu-Lu, and to me she was the most precious thing. She came into my life when I realized I wouldn't be having a child of my own, and she helped me get through that difficult time.
We didn't realize Lucy was sick, and by the time we found out, it was too late. She would have turned seven today.
Shortly after Lucy died, my friend Teri gave me a rosebush called "Angel Face." David planted it in our garden for me and it is a wonderful way for me to have a daily remembrance of my dog.

At first I thought it was silly to cry so much over a dog, but then my friend Maggie reminded me that it doesn’t matter the species, it was a relationship. I’ve come to realize she’s right. Relationships come in all shapes and sizes. When I think about the front row of my life and who is sitting in the center seats I smile, knowing Lucy is in one of them, wagging her tail and cheering me on.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Downtown in P-Town

Submitted by Linda
I had myself a little adventure the other Saturday. While in Clovis, I had read in one of the 'antique news' papers that Pomona was hosting a street fair. Well, though I've lived in Claremont for 15 years, I had never shopped on Antique Row in downtown Pomona. I ventured out, early that morning, hoping that it boasted a similar charm to the Clovis street fair. But, alas, no such luck. The vendors offered a variety of interesting things (old toys, entire booths of clock radios), but in general, the selection felt more "yard sale-ish" than antique-y. Even the stores on the street seemed a bit junky and hard to navigate. However, I did find something. Look at this tiny bistro set. My big shoe is next to it so you can see the scale and size.
My plan is to put it in my yard, as part of a fairy garden. My former kindergarten friend Grace was over with her doll, and we had to try it out.
When I find a happy nook for it in the garden, I'll post a picture.

I had been hoping to find a beat up, old, red, toy truck, like this one pictured from Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas 2011.
I looked high and low in Clovis, Bakersfield, and Pomona for an old red truck. What I found were fire trucks, fuel trucks, and tonka construction trucks. All were NOT what I was looking for, and the prices were crazy high! While at the amazing Hobby Lobby, I found this wannabe for $12.
Though it isn't really old, and it's a bit smaller than I had hoped, I will certainly have 12 dollars worth of fun with it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thank You, Pinterest

Submitted by Michelle

Recently my Kinder Kids and I took a walking field trip to our local fire station for a tour. As a thank you to the firefighters I had the kids write what they enjoyed the most and then compiled the writings into a book. I wanted to do something creative and fun for the front cover, and I knew I wanted to incorporate a handprint. (I use the children's handprints all year long to make cute art projects.) I consulted Lord Google but he wasn't that helpful. Then I remembered my newest obsession...Pinterest! Pinterest is an online pinboard and members can pin things from the internet or post their own pictures. I did a simple search of "hand print art" and voila, I had ideas galore.

The front cover came out great, if I do say so myself. I used glitter to make the water spraying from the hose.
Since I could only use 1 handprint on the front cover, I decided to use thumbprints for the back cover.
If you haven't tried Pintrest, it is high time you did. Click here to get pinning. (And if you want to see my boards, search my name, Michelle Wark.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Clovis 2012 Purchases: Postcards,Lace and....a Weathervane!

Submitted by Linda
Please forgive me for blathering on and on about my adventures in antiquing. This is my final Clovis post, I promise!

I picked up two sweet postcards to hang on my sideboard in January. I like to have something seasonal to hang there, after the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over. I love the bright colors and the gold on this one.
I positively adore these little people, one for each month of the year. They remind me of my kindergarten friends.
This lace was a steal at 4 yards for $3. It's gorgeous, and will happily be chopped in pieces to adorn handmade cards.
I'm a sucker for clever packaging. One vendor had the items pictured below all prettily packaged in what else, but a cellophane bag. The flavor of the hankie, lace, old millinery flowers and embroidery floss caught me immediately. My plan is to use these for card making as well.
And finally......a weather vane. You may remember this picture from last April, when I did a makeover in my kitchen. The boys' first grade artwork to the right of the window had to find a new home in my craft room, and I filled in the blank with an inexpensive rooster print from Kirkland's Home. But my dream was to find a real weather vane, used and worn.
Ta Da! This picture isn't too swell, because the weather vane is laying on my glass patio table, where you can see the table frame below. However, look how weathered it is. The N for North is already missing, so it will lay flat against the wall, with South popping out.
I've asked Craig to deal with the yucky tarry stuff at the bottom, and the extra brace that will need to be removed. It fits perfectly in the space, and I'll post a picture when it's mounted and ready!

The funny part of the story, is that I didn't immediately grab it when I found it. I decided to think about it as I continued shopping in the large building of booths. When I was ready to check out, I decided to get it, as the price was ok, and I hadn't seen one anywhere else. When I went back to the booth, three ladies were holding it and looking at it! I casually 'shopped' near them, til they set it back down, at which point I immediately snatched it up!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Polish Coffee Cake

Submitted by Michelle

When I was a girl, my Polish grandmother would make placek (plah-sek) for holidays, particularly Easter. Placek is a simple Polish coffee cake. Last year at Easter-time, I set out to find a recipe for placek, since my grandmother did not write her recipes down. She baked more by feel and look than by measuring. Luckily for me, the internet is filled with recipes and I found the perfect one at Delicious Inspiration.

This year, I have been incredibly busy, working on a Master's degree whilst teaching full time and trying to maintain my Stampin' Up business. Many things have been put on hold, but placek has not. Last week I pulled the recipe out and got to baking.

Everything starts with a wet batter that has yeast added to it, often referred to as a "sponge" in the baking world. The batter pictured above is simply milk, flour, sugar and yeast.
After about 15 minutes it looks like this.
Whilst I waited for the sponge to get rise and get foamy, I creamed together some butter and sugar.
Then I added in 6 perfect eggs that I purchased at the Farmer's Market. Aren't they beauties?
The eggs give the batter a gorgeous yellow glow.
The next step is to mix the sponge with the batter and add more flour, along with golden raisins. I used the dough hook on my Kitchen Aide mixer to knead it for 5 minutes.
After 2.5 hours, I got this. I know the picture doesn't show it well, but the bowl the dough is in is the biggest mixing bowl I own.
The recipe makes a lot of placek, so I purchased these disposable paper pans at Sur La Table so I could share the finished product with friends.
Before baking the placek, I made a crumb topping using butter, sugar, flour and sliced almonds. It gets generously packed on top of the placek which rises again for 1 hour before it is baked.

The placek wraps up beautifully in some clear cellophane which I purchased at Cost Plus. This gift is for the local firemen who gave my Kindergarten kids a tour last week.
The star shaped pans of placek turned into cute presents for smaller friends.

If you haven't tried your hand at dough involving yeast, I highly encourage you to give it a try. Beth at Delicious Inspiration gives flawless directions and the end product will be worth the work.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter 2012!

Submitted by Linda
Though my family focuses on the more sacred, redemptive aspects of Easter, I do have my share of springtime decorations around. Remember these eggs that were delivered on my birthday? I thought you may enjoy seeing what I did with some of them.
I found this 'retro' egg dye box at the Sugar Plum Craft Boutique and immediately knew it would house some of those gorgeous eggs. And bless Craig's heart - he used his dremmel tool to drill holes in the eggs and even helped me blow them out. And yes, the big spotted one had two yolks for good luck!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sawyer!

Submitted by Linda
Please don't be surprised to see my pennant punch again. This time I had to use the tiniest pennant, and make a larger card to fit Sawyer's name on the front. My goal was to use boyish colors for our nephew's first birthday.

I began with paper from the old Summer Picnic DSP. I used the new Framelits Label to punch out the green portion, then embossed it with the Lattice embossing folder. The letters are the Rough Type alphabet. The large #1 is from a set of Martha Stewart felt numbers, which I found discounted at Tuesday Morning (or 'Monday Night', as Michelle likes to say!)
I'm not sure Sawyer will care too much about the card, but hopefully his mommy will enjoy it!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Clovis 2012 Purchases: China and Glassware

Submitted by Linda
Less than a year ago, I came across a complete set of Royal Albert Petit Point china whilst in Victoria, B.C. on vacation. The minute I saw it, I knew I would begin collecting. I found a few affordable pieces on ebay, then found some last fall when I was in Clovis. This past trip, lookie what I got! Most of it was purchased as a bundle, for $30! The darling covered butter server is shown for at least $40 on ebay. Don't you love it when you find a deal?
One of the bonus items in that lot was this 'mug'. It's a bit larger than a teacup, and now will be my favorite 'weekend' tea-mug. Since during the week I take a travel mug to school, my weekend mornings with my china mug is one of my favorite simple pleasures.
I also have plans, thanks to the inspiration of my friend Liz, to transcribe this pattern into counted cross stitch, so that I can create matching napkins for the tea party I will one day host. I even found some antique linen napkins that I purchased for that purpose. The design can be transcribed by hand, or one can use a free site that will translate any image into a cross stitch pattern. Don't we love technology?

Another item I was shopping for this weekend, was a small vase. I have quite a few vases, but they are either medium or large in size, or they are clear glass. Don't get me wrong, a pretty clear glass vase has its place, but sometimes I get irritated by the mucky water as a day or two passes.

Also, I kept remembering Susan Branch's Post about vases and flowers. YOU MUST CLICK THE LINK AND READ IT! Her post is so charming, as are her vases. I 'borrowed' this picture from the post of her vase cabinet:
(Picture from Susan Branch)
Now, I certainly don't need that many vases, but it is nice to have the perfect one when you need it.

My first find was this Gumps vase. Gumps is a San Francisco landmark, and they are still famous for wedding registries and window displays. This vase is proudly displaying my first rose of spring and the first sweet peas - the best smell ever!
Next, a white Fenton vase. Charming, right?
A chubby milk glass vessel rounds out the collection.
Or so I thought. I found this hand painted charmer in the rain, and bought it from a desperate street vendor who was going out of business.
I have some of my vases in the linen closet, and some under my kitchen sink. My plan is to put them all together like Susan does (mostly so I can admire them every time I open the cabinet). But just for fun, I plopped 3 of them in my sideboard cupboard just to adore them all smooshed together, waiting for their turn.
Now I can have fresh flowers in any nook or corner of my home!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Clovis 2012 Purchases: Linens

Submitted by Linda
I for one think one can never have too many linens, specifically tablecloths. (My husband may dare to disagree, yet even he knows that we always use tablecloths for gatherings, even for an outdoor bbq). For me, nothing says "I expected you to come!" like a nicely set table (or a paper plate on a cute checked tablecloth!)

I have several red checked tablecloths, which I use throughout most seasons, and very often throughout the summer. I always seem to run short, when I need to cover a serving table, a drink station, and seating for guests.

One of my first purchases in Clovis was this blue checked tablecloth. It is in perfect condition, and belonged to the shopkeeper's aunt. I think the blue will make a nice addition to my red ones! And, it was cheaper than a new tablecloth would be.
This next item is one of my favorite purchases of the day. I actually found this gem at the Central Park Antique Mall in Bakersfield, of all places. This small tablecloth, which fits so sweetly on my table over the red check, was only $7.50!
The cool thing about embroidery these days, is that it is very hip, with cute new patterns and projects. On the other hand, I never see patterns for sweet 'old school' motifs like this one has. And notice the red crocheting on the edge!

Because each girl is SSC, I'm going to show you each image.
Girl #1: Ironing - please notice her cute shoes.
Girl #2: Baking - Don't we adore those hair ribbons?
Girl #3: Back view of hanging clothes on the line - good thing she has her flats on!
Girl #4: Dusting - She's getting serious with her head scarf on!
Girl #5:The seamstress- I love the box of spilled pins on the floor.
Girl #6: Biking - Finally, she gets to have some fun!
I positively adore this tablecloth, and oh, if it could talk. I'd love to know who stitched it and when. For now, it will live at my house!